Tuesday, 18 September 2012
Why we homeschool 1#
For regular readers of our little family blog, you will know that we started our journey into homeschooling a few months back and have been enjoying great success with this life-style. For me it was a bit of a no-brainer. For the first time in many years I was free of study, qualified (and thus able to find more flexible work), and in a better position to take a good look at my family, assess its needs and see what I could do to make a positive impact on our little corner of the universe.
Being (mostly) at home, with little Layla, afforded me the time and perspective to see that my children were extremely unhappy in mainstream schooling, and had experienced many of the trauma's that we seem to take as part and parcel of the school experience, over the last few years (including bullying from other students and teachers, a loss of interest in learning, apathy and dread of school, pre-school morning illnesses and a myriad of other things). Initially I described our situation as 'less than extraordinary' as I did not feel that my children had been bullied any more than what was normal for most children, and I didn't feel that my children were any more traumatised by school or teachers than anybody else either. However, a very small voice inside me made me think that perhaps as a mother I could do better, and that life did not have to be the way it was.
And then there was homeschool.
The thing about homeschooling is that when I began, I never considered that I might have to justify my decision or choices to anybody but my immediate family. After all, I do not consult the general public on opinions as to what toilet paper my family should use, what vegetables I should use to make dinner for my children, or how qualified I am to assist my children with their homework. Likewise, it would never occur to me to ask a complete stranger to justify why they have sent their children to a certain school, why they think that their children will do better at that school than at another, or to explain to me their children's marks on their report cards.
Thus it has come as a bit of a surprise that there seems to be constant attention focused on myself and my children on any given week day, when we dare to enter the world outside of school, on (God forbid!) a school day! Everyone from shop attendants to security guards, elderly people in check-out lines and random people in the library, or at the beach, seem to take it as their personal business to get to the bottom of why 'these children' are not at school! I am in awe of how much attention we attract, doing the smallest and most mundane things (i.e. borrowing library books) and the questions that are asked of us, almost weekly, such as:
"why are you not at school?"
"are you on school holidays then?"
"taking a day off are we? tut tut"
... and (even more shockingly, the third degree that follows):
"but children need school to socialise!"
"Oh no - how do you make sure that they are learning the same thing as everyone else their age?"
"but you won't know if they are falling behind?"
"do you know your times tables?...(and rarely) so what is ____ +_____?" (yep, I will draw the line at quizzing my children!)
I know that one of our fellow homeschool Mum's is so self-conscious of this constant barrage, that she sometimes feels the need to avoid public spaces during school hours, as it can be overwhelming to have to face questions all of the time. However we will not stay inside!
For anybody who is curious about homeschooling and generally wants to know. I will try my best to articulate why we homeschool over the next few posts. I hope that this is informative (in case you are thinking of homeschooling yourself) or at least, may be enough to help you to think about education differently :-)